This “takeover” of an artwork house by an ensemble of musicians is an experiment to discover how modern classical music may be skilled as a type of modern artwork. Mr. Meyers and Ms. Chong Cuy hope that when experimental music is free of its conventional settings and introduced into the “white dice” of a gallery, each the musicians and the viewers will expertise it in a very new method.
“If you consider the live performance home, the opera home, the theater and even the membership, these are areas which have very particular guidelines that start earlier than you even enter the house,” mentioned Mr. Meyer, throughout a break between rehearsals. Though these kinds of efficiency venues have been the norm for a whole bunch of years, he mentioned, they might not all the time be the optimum setting for modern classical music.
“For the composer, these guidelines dominate the state of affairs even earlier than you step into the house, and generally even earlier than you sit right down to compose a bit.” A couple of decade in the past, Mr. Meyers began to compose work for museum and gallery settings — giant open areas, normally with white partitions and naked concrete flooring, with out fastened viewers seating and even set efficiency instances.
“I discovered that I might have a unique relationship to the viewers,” mentioned Mr. Meyers, who’s from New York and now lives in Berlin. “Initially, that they had company — they may come and go. In the event that they didn’t prefer it they may depart, in the event that they preferred it they may keep. In the event that they weren’t within the temper, they may come again tomorrow.”
He got here up with the concept of a musical “kunsthalle,” the German phrase for a public constructing the place artwork is displayed, and mentioned it at size in an interview with Marie-France Rafael that later grew to become the substance of the 2016 ebook “Music on Show.” Defne Ayas, who was the director of Witte de With till final yr, learn the ebook and have become intrigued with the notion, deciding to attempt it out on the arts heart, as a “check drive for a brand new kind of establishment.”
There’s a lengthy historical past of music within the context of visible artwork, from the Futurists within the early 20th century by 1960s conceptual artwork and John Cage, Ms. Ayas mentioned in a phone interview from Berlin, the place she now lives. She added, nevertheless, that the exhibition in Rotterdam was “the primary time we’re actually trying in a eager method on the buildings and processes and social conditions that include music.”
Mr. Meyers drew a distinction between music and sound artwork, which is usually created particularly for artwork areas. “I don’t think about myself to be a sound artist, I’m a composer,” he mentioned. However the listing of 38 musical compositions that he has put collectively for the exhibition accommodates each experimental items within the classical music custom, and different works which have extra to do with modern artwork.
The vary of music on show begins with excerpts from Erik Satie’s “Vexations” (a single web page of musical notation meant to be performed 840 instances) from round 1893, by Steve Reich “Clapping Music for Two Performers” from 1972, as much as Mr. Meyers’s personal “Elevator Music,” a 2016 piece that shall be carried out dwell within the Witte de With elevator by a cellist.
The musical séance, one in every of 4 new commissions, was created by Ms. Gonzalez-Foerster, a French artist who described herself as a visible artist with “a robust relationship to music” fairly than a musician or a composer. (In one in every of her latest works, she seems in a projected hologram dressed as the opera singer Maria Callas.)
“A variety of music is made to be rehearsed and also you suppose it’s solely good whenever you’ve performed it many instances, however that is actually the alternative,” she mentioned in an interview between rehearsals. “It very a lot depends on this primary second. It additionally is dependent upon the one that is watching the way it works in an emotional sense.”
For her “Séance,” she gave the musicians only some directions: to enter the gallery house and to take their seats one after the other; that the final individual into the room ought to decide one of many items of paper out of the hat. Somewhat than calling up a specific composition by the lifeless composer, she requested the musicians to channel the concept of the individual. And he or she additionally advised them “to neglect about doing it nicely or doing it proper.”
Midway by “Séance,” the music had escalated right into a pounding, rhythmic maelstrom of sound, with strains of blues and the saxophone wailing. The music swelled and dipped, swelled once more after which waned, till the devices stopped and only some voices had been left singing unintelligible phrases, breathy and prayerful. Then silence, whereas the musicians sat once more with heads bent. Then they stood quietly and walked one after the other out of the room.